Accelerating Change Through Shared Leadership
n What Are Your Major Change Initiatives?

Asperger's Syndrome
n What is Asperger's Syndrome?
n No Child Left Behind - What About Mine?
n How Parents Can Work With Educators
n A Success Story

For Parents and Teachers: Toby's Way, a training video / DVD demonstrating a tutoring strategy for memorization tasks, particularly math facts.

Tobys Way DVD
(VHS or DVD)

Price:  $ 39.95
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Also see: Sanity Savers

The Story of Toby's Way

Toby is an exceptional individual. He started school at the age of four in a CH/SDC (Communicatively Handicapped Special Day Class) for preschoolers. Over the years he was diagnosed as having language processing disorders and given various labels - CH, SDL (Severe Disorder of Language), Asperger's Syndrome ("high functioning autistic"). As a parent I found these labels of little use - I only cared that he learned. As an upper elementary student he learned to read, and his reading fluency and comprehension increased steadily each year.

However, math was a great difficulty, because, like many students, including many in regular classrooms, Toby seemed unable to memorize his math facts - neither addition/subtraction combinations, nor times tables. He counted on his fingers, used charts, and was generally frustrated. Perhaps the most disheartening development occurred when his teacher began giving "Ice Cream Math" tests. Students would get ice cream each time they passed a series of weekly timed tests on math facts.

Frustrated and upset, because I believed Toby was one of those students, like many I had had as an upper elementary teacher, who just "couldn't" memorize math facts and simply needed to use charts and tables in order to move on in math, I told my son not to worry. It was OK, I said, if he didn't get ice cream at school. We would work at home, and we could decide when he had earned ice cream, and make our own outings to the ice cream shop!

We began spending 15-20 minutes each weekday evening using a series of simple strategies involving visualizing, verbalizing, and manipulating homemade materials, and to my own amazement, Toby began passing his Ice Cream Math test at school every Friday. "Slow down, Toby," joked one of his classmates. His teacher was very surprised, since Toby had been struggling with his 2's times table test since September, and in February suddenly began to pass a new test every week, including cumulative review tests. And he retained the learning! Unlike my experiences as a classroom teacher with chants, drills, songs, and games, where some students still did not learn their facts, Toby remembered the facts he learned, and was able to move on with success to two and three digit multiplication and long division.

Following Toby's triumph, I trained classroom volunteers and Title I instructional aides at the elementary school where I was working as Title I/ Program Coordinator to use this same method with low achieving 3-6 grade students, and we met with the same success! Starting with the most needy students and spending only 15-20 minutes per day with each one, we found that the kids quickly mastered their "missing" facts and "graduated," allowing the aides and volunteers to help other students. While this method is designed for one-to-one tutoring rather than group work, it is so simple that even elementary students can be trained as tutors, and work with peers or cross age buddies.

I believe that the greatest potential for this method lies in the training of parents. This 25 minute video is perfect for your mandated Title I parent meetings, as well as Family Math nights and similar programs at non-Title I schools. With our school orders we include training suggestions for using the video with groups of parents, aides, volunteers, or student tutors. The video is also a perfect addition to your Parenting Library.

I wish all students the same success that my son and others have experienced. Their joy in finally mastering "impossible" learning that has defeated them for so long is simply exhilarating, and the momentum and motivation carry them to further success in math processes that are now easy, because they no longer get sidetracked and "stuck" on math facts. Math doesn't have to be frustrating. All students can learn, and Toby's Way is a way to success for many students with learning difficulties.

Educators 2000
PO Box 1627, Claremont, CA 91711
Phone and Fax: (909) 624-8899

  b Supporting Principals to Create Shared Leadership  
  b Making a Difference, One Child at a Time  
  b A Team Approach to Using Student Data  
  b Fostering Shared Leadership  
  b Japanese Lesson Study Comes to California  
  b Leaders in Transition  
  b Structural and Cultural Shifts to Change the Status Quo  
  b High Fidelity, Creative Teaching  
  b Professional Learning Communities for Schools in Sanctions  
  b Leadership is a Beach  

All articles posted by permission of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)


Toby's Way received recognition in 2007 from the prestigious
Telly Awards for non-broadcast productions in education